Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Nola's Birth

I am just 18 weeks away (give or take a few) from meeting our new baby. I have never written down the story of Nola's birth, and want to get it out now before another labor experience mushes my memories up!

I woke up on a Sunday morning feeling especially tired. And huge. Ryan left early for church to help on the worship team. I was so tired I was an hour late for church that day. I sent Ryan a text when church was starting to let him know I'd just woken up.

The whole day I felt so sluggish. I didn't feel well, and kind of thought I was constipated. All I ate was Grape Nuts to try and fix that. I spent a lot of time in the bathroom thinking I needed to go.

David Gray called early in the evening to check up on us and see if anything was going on with the baby. "Nope." We said. "Nothing going on."

Only a few hours later, around 6 p.m., I went to try and use the bathroom again. This time, something gushed out. I thought it was my water breaking, but when I peeked down I saw that it was blood. This was a little scary for me. I was pretty sure you weren't supposed to BLEED as an initial sign of labor. We called the midwife and she sent us to the hospital immediately. I called my mom, who was at Sunday night church five hours away in Missouri. I am pretty sure I cried when talking to her because I was so scared.

We threw a few extra things into my half-packed hospital bag and jumped in the car. We left the house a huge mess. Friday had been my last day at work. Since I wasn't due until the following Friday, I had been counting on that week to get everything in order before the baby came.

I was shaking the whole way to the hospital. We listened to a great, soothing song off of the cd 24/7 by the band RoJo. But I had a hard time calming down.

Checking in at the hospital was relatively quick and easy. Our nurse, Jessica, was awesome. She put me right at ease. As soon as I got settled in, and they were monitoring the baby, I settled right down. Just knowing that now someone would at least know what was going on made me feel better.

As it turned out, our midwife, Marilyn, had misunderstood us on the phone. She thought I had said I was 29 weeks, rather than 39 weeks. So she had sent us to the high risk side of the maternity ward. Jessica told us that when she saw the blood, she was very scared for us. But when she saw the size of my belly, she knew there had been a misunderstanding! After we got that cleared up, we moved to a different room for my labor. Luckily, Jessica came with us.

I think my contractions started around 9 p.m. They were noticeable, but extremely manageable with long breaks in between. Jessica sent us walking around the hospital hallways to keep my labor going strong. If I remember correctly, I was four centimeters dilated at this time, but the contractions were still not a problem. We walked a loop around the Hospital floor, passing Ryan's parents, sister, and our friends Liz and Andrew every few minutes. We were laughing and joking with them. I never got to see him, but I know at one point in the evening Ryan's good friend Paul had brought us a few more things from our house. When he and Revonna heard we were in labor, and had had to leave in such a hurry, they went to our house and packed up more of the things we would need. Like our camera!

Around 9:30, Jessica came and got us. My midwife, Marilyn, wasn't at the hospital yet, but there was a doctor there who could break my water for me if I wanted. I was doing so well with my labor, that I wasn't sure. I called my mom to see how close she was. She was only about halfway to Omaha, but she said I should do whatever I needed and not try and wait for her. So the doctor broke my water. She said, "Your contractions should get a little harder and more painful now that the watery cushion is gone." She was very right. The first contraction after my water broke was extremely painful. Ten times worse than they had been. But I still had very long breaks in between contractions, with no pain whatsoever.

Jessica sent us walking again. This time around, I didn't want to walk past anyone I knew. Joke and laugh time was coming to an end for me. The contractions became stronger and stronger. Eventually, I couldn't stand during them. When I felt it coming on, I would grab Ryan and he would help me slowly fall to my knees. My only strategy during contractions was to completely relax every muscle in my body. I would close my eyes, and let everything loosen up. This is another reason I didn't want to stand during them. Ryan thought it was weird that during contractions, I would actually let go of his hand rather than squeeze the life out of it like everyone told him would happen. Squeezing just really didn't help. Relaxing did.

I don't know how long we walked, but we returned to the room so I could sit down. Jessica really wanted me to keep walking. I smiled at her and in my head thought, "Is she crazy?!!!" At this point I was also feeling quite sick to my stomach. She offered me something for that, but I didn't really think it was that bad. I think Jessica must have read me like a book during this time, because she decided to call my midwife to come up to the hospital.

When my midwife showed up, I think she checked me. I think. And I'm pretty sure I was at a seven. Things are a little hazy in my memory at that point. I think I was in transition and didn't quite realize it. They got the jacuzzi ready for me.

Ahhhhhhh. That was perfect. The water was so helpful and calming. The only thing I didn't like was the jets of water during a contraction. I liked them in between, but during my contractions I wanted to tear their jetting heads off. The lights were turned down low, and everyone kept their voices low for me. Looking back, this is the most awkward part of my labor. There I was, in all my glory, (next time I'm bringing a swim top) while the nurse, my midwife, Ryan, and eventually my mom, all stared at me. Ryan says it wasn't that weird at the time, which is probably true.

In the water, my contractions were extremely painful. I could feel myself wanting to fight them and get flustered. But my midwife told me to breathe them out, so I did. Strangely, breathing out helped a lot. But the breath in was the worst! Such pain when I took a breath in, but when I breathed out it really felt like I was blowing the pain away. I was in a little bit of a trance during this phase, as well. Jessica caught a moment in between my contractions to make sure I had seen my mom had showed up. I just barely opened my eyes to say hello. Then it was back to business.

After a while, I don't know how long, I felt the urge to push. My midwife saw me curl up in a ball. She had been calmly sitting in a chair in front of the jacuzzi monitoring me. She may have been timing my contractions, as well. I'm not sure. But when she saw me curl up, she sat right up and asked if I felt I needed to push. I told her it sure felt that way. She said we should try for a couple more contractions, and if I felt like pushing again I would need to get out. I didn't want to get out of the water, but with the next contraction I felt like pushing, so I had to get out. (Next time I'm lying. The water is too wonderful.)

Jessica and Marilyn (or was it my mom?) wrapped warm towels around me as I got out, and helped me slip into a gown. I got back in bed and Marilyn checked me. It must have been around 12:30 in the morning. She said I was still just a nine, but she thought she could just push my cervix out of the way for me, and I could go ahead and push with each contraction.

The contractions seemed to really slow down after I got out the water. It was kind of nice because I got such long breaks between. And, oddly enough, when I pushed I didn't feel the pain of them. The second I felt a contraction coming, I would feel that anxiety and the fear of severe pain coming on, but then I would start pushing and it would disappear.

During one push, I sprayed the whole room with some sort of baby fluid. Yes, it happened. Ryan's jeans were splattered with something. I think Marilyn got a little in the face. Everyone laughed. At one point in between contractions, I remember looking up at my mom and saying, "This is a lot easier than I thought it was going to be." Everyone laughed then, too. But I really meant it. I pushed for forty five minutes. I broke every blood vessel in my face. They kept telling me to take breaths during pushing, but I just wanted to get the baby out so I wouldn't stop. In retrospect, that was probably a mistake. A little mini breath probably would've made for more effective pushing. I must have lost my cool a little at one point because I remember mom looking at me sternly and saying,"Don't lose control now, Charity. Get a hold of yourself." I remember thinking, "What is she talking about? I'm doing fine!" After a while, Marilyn told me to reach down and feel the baby's head. I did. And it was gross. Then, suddenly, everyone got bossy. I could feel tension in the air between Marilyn and Jessica. They were communicating with their eyes. And they started yelling at me to push. Quite sternly. And then Jessica was on top of me, using her body weight to push down on my stomach.

And then Nola was here. They put her on my chest. I remember stroking her slimy little back so I would look like a good, loving mom. On the inside, though, I was grossed out and really wanted them to take her away and clean her up before I snuggled her. Ryan cut the umbilical cord. The first thing I said about her was, "She looks like a little Mexican baby!" She had so much dark, black hair. I watched as the baby nurse came in and gave her a nice bath and washed her hair.

Marilyn helped me deliver the placenta. Yes, that's an odd part of labor, but you barely remember it. I did not have an episiotomy, but I did naturally tear in a couple of places. Marilyn said they were "good" places to tear. I don't think any place down there is a good place to tear. She stitched me up and it hurt like the dickens! This is the downside of not getting an epidural. You feel every little thing after the baby is born. You feel every little thing during the labor, but you're focused on getting the baby out so it's different. Once the baby is out, you want it to all be over, and then they start stitching you! Evidently, she did numb the area, but it's a very difficult area of the body to numb.

Now everything is hazy after this. It was 1:20 a.m. when Nola was born. I know that everyone came in to see her. My mom and dad, Ryan's mom and dad, Erica, Liz and Andrew. My sisters, Felicity and Serenity came in at the last minute as a surprise! I didn't know they were coming. I cried. It was perfect, too. The fist person we handed the baby to was Serenity, and I told the whole room, "This is Nola Serenity Long." Serenity survived a rare form of cancer called Synovial Cell Sarcoma. Ryan and I were married right around the time of her diagnosis. We didn't always think she would survive, and I often thought one of my children would be named after her because of her death. But, then, she lived! Thank you, Serenity. While I was pregnant with Nola, I thought how unfair to only get someone named after you if you die. You should have someone named after you because you lived! There are a few other details to her naming and you might like to read Serenity's side of the story here.

Looking back, Nola's delivery was better than I would have hoped. God gave me everything I asked for in her labor and delivery. Literally, we prayed every night for the baby and the delivery and God said Yes to all of it! That's why this time around I'm praying for a daytime delivery!


  1. I can't believe I've never heard this story from start to finish. I love labor stories now that I've been through them, and there's so much I love about this one. First, hello, the gross baby/good mommy thing. I adore that. I was never even offered my children before they were clean, but I would have felt JUST LIKE THIS. You're so cute. And I hadn't heard about Mom getting stern with you because, per usual, she only raved about what an angelic little soldier you were. :) I have a stern-mama story in my memoir too during labor. But I knew exactly why she did it, and boy did I need it!

    And then the naming. Oh how I love that I got someone named after me because I lived. That's the most beautiful thing I've ever heard, and one of the best moments in my life.

  2. Being pregnant and hearing somebody else's story got me all emotional! I was tearing up throughout the story remembering my labor with Toby. It was awful! And yet I look back at it with fondness and sentiment :) I wish we lived in a city with a jacuzzi. Maybe they'll let me sit in the tub with this one though.

  3. Okay, I'm not pregnant and still got emotional. It must be a mommy thing. I love labor stories. I love that you named her after Serenity for the reason that you did. How awesome! Thanks for sharing :)

  4. You know the blessed amnesia they talk about after labor? How you will forget the bad parts? It is even true for the grandmother. I only remember how beautifully you did and totally forgot that terrifying, freak out moment when Jessica climbed on top of you and pushed Nola out. Seriously never saw that done before. And, I cried all over again reading this. Especially the naming part. I know the next baby will have wonderful stories all his/her own, but it's gonna be tough to top that naming one.

  5. This is a great post. You will always be glad you took the time to write it. I had all of my kids by c-section, but I have witnessed most of my neices and nephews be born the more natural way. Every birth is so unique and emotional and you captured Nola's story beautifully! And you say you are not a writer!

  6. I love that you shared this story with us, Char!
    Both times I've thought that I'd try to go through labor without an epidural, but the first time I was in labor for 21 hours and on pitocin, and the second time I told Jason, "If this is just about me being brave, then I don't think I want to have to be that brave." But . . . I was only in labor for about 2 hours once we got to the hospital. So who knows? Maybe this time I'll make it. I think it would be nice to know what it was like. Well, I THINK it would be nice, anyway. :)